To Anyone Who Didn’t Have a Happy Thanksgiving,
Your day didn’t go the way that you had planned. I understand. Maybe, it was because someone that was a part of your Thanksgiving wasn’t at the table this year. Most of the time you deal with the pain of your loss, but when a holiday rolls around, especially one about family, it hurts.
Perhaps you’re wondering what the heck you have to be thankful for, except that Thanksgiving is finally over.
Maybe you spent the day with a drunk or racist or otherwise toxic and dysfunctional family member that you spend the rest of the year avoiding.
I understand if you aren’t grateful for that person, and admire you for trying to keep the family peace and showing up anyway.
Did you burn something? Or have an epic culinary disaster?
It can make you feel like a failure when your social media feed is full of juicy turkeys and pies with golden brown crusts. It’s okay.
And pictures of all of those smiling families with their arms around each other brimming with gratitude and full of mashed potatoes?
Those pictures aren’t always a true reflection of the situation.
They don’t show the argument in the car on the way to the in-law’s house.
They don’t show the kid who had an epic melt down before the picture was snapped.
They don’t show that the people who are trying so hard to look like they are pulled together for you in the pictures are really falling apart on the inside.
To anyone who didn’t have a Happy Thanksgiving, you’re not alone.
One year, I was so drunk that I didn’t bite my tongue when my mom’s boyfriend made another misogynistic remark about women. The next three years they dated, social situations were even more awkward for both of us. Thankfully, we never spent another Thanksgiving meal together.
One year, we had Campbellgiving instead of Thanksgiving the Wednesday before, because we had our new business open on Thanksgiving day. We only had a couple of customers, and it wasn’t worth the time we could have spent together as a family. The evening ended in an argument with me screaming at my tired husband.
Pretty much the opposite of happy.
Another year, we burned the stuffing, even though my husband and I are great cooks. Because our oven isn’t very big, we cooked the stuffing on the grill in a pyrex dish. It was so black on the bottom, that the whole thing tasted like charcoal. An animal tried to eat part of it in the middle of the night, because we had left it outside on the deck. We saw paw prints in the snow.
Even the animal left most of the burned stuffing in the pan it was so gross.
One year, my brother and his wife announced they were expecting their first baby at Thanksgiving dinner. I was in a dead-end relationship. I cried a lot that night because I felt so alone. I ended the relationship the next day.
Another year, I was so sick from medication I was taking to try to get pregnant, I could barely eat dinner. My grief was magnified when I heard that my brother and his wife were expecting their second baby which was a “surprise” and unplanned.
This year, was mostly happy for me. It was happy, because I’ve realized that Happy Thanksgiving doesn’t have to mean Perfect Thanksgiving.
On my Happy Thanksgiving, I snapped at my mom in frustration more than once. I argued with my husband over a miscommunication about cooking.
I had one boy wake up crying after bedtime because he puked over the side of his bed. There were several other parts of my day that weren’t perfect either.
If you had a Thanksgiving that didn’t measure up to what you hoped it would be this year, you’re not alone. Even though some years are better than others, Thanksgiving is still one of my favorite holidays.
Just be thankful that it is only one day a year.
PS That’s exactly how I feel about Christmas. (I love Jesus, but I hate Christmas.)
Wonderful article Jen! Yes, mine have never been as described but yeah, they are never as they are depicted on facebook, I am certain hardly anyone’s are, and I almost laugh when I look at people’s posts at times and I love how real and raw you and other people are, I am working on being more authentic. Not everyone needs to know every detail, of course it is everyone’s choice to post the highlights of course!, but this year I did post that we are working on getting our building permit still, and the living situation,… work changes, hardships as well as successes, for me this year, likely for same reason you are writhing articles like this, (to help others), it felt important to me. I don’t post about every small setback, I equate that like when people post about their favorite latte. I loved your article, it reminds us of how we are all the same experiencing these situations and we are not alone. My thanksgiving was similar to most days.. I was made fun of for “oh, you are so Olympia, *rude condescending tone*” for going to yoga and sound healing in the morning and some food bank donation stuff, while mom made ham, (I avoid commercial meat). :/ which of course I get made fun of if I don’t eat it and it is a big deal and a big spotlight gets put on me about why, etc. family members often drink too much and say what they shouldn’t yes, I haven’t been drinking hardly at all lately but have been guilty of this in the past I know. other family members that I wasn’t with focused this holiday on consumerism and this is polar opposite from me as well, I look at them in a daze when they discuss the best deals for the actual holiday and the fact that they are shopping and not spending time with family. If I say anything about how I feel politically or Christopher Columbus or indigenous people I may as well be shown the door, so anything about how I really feel about the holiday I keep my mouth shut and if anyone asks about “thankfulness” I semi-lie and simply say I am “glad to not be working”. The biggest thing I struggle with to summarize is the balance between saying how you feel, being authentically you and keeping peace, especially with those that you love the most and deeply respect on many levels even though you have many differences of opinion and chose to share a meal with and in our case living with for an extended period of time.
Oh Molly, so true. I’m glad that you took the time you needed to take care of yourself.
Great post and so true! Social media never shows the things that go wrong over the holidays, it’s always just happy people smile at a camera.
Yes! I think we need to have more of the reality and less of the superficial in what we share.